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Title: Biological control of yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) in the Salmon River Canyon of Idaho

Author: Birdsall, Jennifer L.; Markin, George P.;

Date: 2010

Source: Invasive Plant Science and Management. 3: 462-469.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Yellow starthistle is an invasive, annual, spiny forb that, for the past 30 yr has been steadily advancing up the Salmon River Canyon in west central Idaho. In 1994, a decision was made to attempt to manage yellow starthistle by establishing a complex of biological control agents in a containment zone where the weed was most dense. Between 1995 and 1997, six species of seedhead-attacking insects were introduced and successfully established. By 1999, the insects had spread through the entire containment zone. Following this dispersal, a rapid buildup of insect populations occurred, and, since 2003, seed destruction has fluctuated around 90%. Vegetation monitoring plots, however, have shown no consistent decline in the overall population of yellow starthistle, indicating that the amount of seed produced is still sufficient to allow full replacement. However, county weed control personnel, who are responsible for surveying and destroying outlying populations of yellow starthistle beyond the containment zone, report that, during this period, the number of new, isolated pockets of yellow starthistle they are finding has dropped dramatically. This case study discusses how the biological control program partially met the objective of managing yellow starthistle by reducing the rate of advance of this weed in the Salmon River Canyon.

Keywords: seedhead-attacking insects, seed predation, weed containment zones

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Birdsall, Jennifer L.; Markin, George P. 2010. Biological control of yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) in the Salmon River Canyon of Idaho. Invasive Plant Science and Management. 3: 462-469.


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